"We're near the equator... so this must be BIOGRAPHIES!"Steven Moffat has already written three of my favorite episodes of the revived Doctor Who series: the two-parter consisting of "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances" for Christopher Eccleston's season as the Doctor, and 2006's stunning "The Girl in the Fireplace" (and I haven't seen it yet but I've heard his "Blink" last year was absolutely amazing). He's also set to take over production of the show beginning in the 2010 season (after the hiatus next season so that David Tennant can fulfill a commitment to star in Hamlet for the London stage) and if "Silence in the Library" is any indication, we can expect great things from Moffat in the future.
"Without death they would be only comedies."
"A million million lifeforms... and silence in the library."
"Message follows: Run. For God's sake run."
"It's the Fifty-First Century. That's like donating a park bench."
"I'm a time-traveler. I point and laugh at archaeologists."
"Almost every species in the universe has an irrational fear of the dark. But they're wrong. Because it's not irrational."
"Doctor. Please tell me you know who I am."
"Hello. Are you in my television?"
"My grandfather lasted a day. He kept talking about his shoelaces."
"Yeah. You gave it to me."
"Donna Noble has been saved."
"Hey, who turned out the lights?"
The episode begins with a cerebral scene involving a little girl (Eve Newton) floating across a very Coruscant-ish city landscape, before she opens her eyes and finds herself facing her father and a psychiatrist. The next moment, the Doctor (Tennant) and Donna (Catherine Tate) are bursting through the doors on The Library: the largest library in existence and so large, it covers an entire planet and needs no other proper name. All well and good, except that the Library is quiet... too quiet. Other than the Doctor and Donna, there's not a single living being in sight, though the Library's computer declares that there is a vast number of lifeforms on the planet. Then a team of archaeologists arrives, led by Professor River Song (Alex Kingston): a woman who hints very strongly throughout the episode that she and the Doctor have met before.
"Silence in the Library" is a downright spooky and jarring episode: something that Moffat has demonstrated he can pull off extremely well. The one negative critique that I would have about the episode is that there's a bit too much re-use of the "catchphrase cacophony" to elicit fright: Moffat did it with "The Empty Child" and he does it again here. But after everything else that is strong about this episode, this is a very minor thing. I thought that the Nodes were a chilling concept, but even those pale next to the idea of the Data Ghosts. Something about that is sincerely unnerving to think about, almost as if it might someday become a very real phenomenon. I mean, when you think about it, the Data Ghosts are just an after-effect of neurologically-enhanced blogging. Scary stuff...
The story concludes in "Forest of the Dead", which should be airing on the BBC for our British friends any moment now, and will no doubt be made available for download later this evening. I'll try to do a review of that one soon, too!
"Silence in the Library" gets 4 and 1/2 Sonic Screwdrivers out of 5.